- This is the second time in three trips that Ivonne and I have had the opportunity to wander around an alien city in the pouring rain. To be fair, our first sojourn in Kyoto wasn’t necessarily flooding on a biblical scale mind you, but Yokohama’s Chinatown was the most rain we’ve been out and about in since being here. I’m extremely thankful for this pattern emerging.
- I’m grateful for disappointments turned to surprises. The capricious brilliance of fish jumping in the bay, the majesty of the Yokohama Landmark Tower soaked with fog and night, to the elongated dignity of the Yokohama train station, and finally the whimsical wonder on Ivonne’s face in the Miyazaki store: These things made baseball seem like a trifle. These were the creations of immediate intimacy, things we’ll remember with fondness, together. I’m so thankful for being afforded that opportunity.
- I’m thankful that my lady found us some of the best sushi we’ve ever had. Period. And to think it came from a rotation joint.
- I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend a few days alone with Ivonne in Kyoto by ourselves, and that Bee was more than willing to watch Reza for us. To have that kind of amazing family – not only to entertain and host – but to trust with our only child is a gift to be celebrated.
- To see and feel and witness one of the most recognizable and transcendent places in the world was a treasure, even more so because it was even more special to her.
- I’m thankful that she was able to find the god damned waffle hut at the Kyoto train station. They didn’t taste as wonderful as I remember, but the look on her face was better than I could have hoped for.
- I’m thankful that I can recognize the work I’ve put in when I see pictures of myself now. I’m not close to where I need to be, but I’m on my path, and I can appreciate that. It’s a start.
- She reached for me today. A lot, even when she knew I was down. I couldn’t ask for more.
- I’m thankful that today wasn’t as ass-blistering hot as it was a few days ago. Damn, that shit was unholy and I’m still scarred.
- We had an incredible day in Tokyo today; I’m thankful that we had a bit of time between trains to chill, get some snacks, and be where we needed to be without running, pushing, pulling, biting, slapping or shitting ourselves.
- I’m grateful that our daughter has pretty decent fashion sense, despite this incessant need for high heels and a new penchant for – fuck – fishnets.
- I’m thankful that I have the financial ability to travel the world. Ivonne and I had a cool discussion today about whether we would still travel places if we hadn’t ended up together. I know I would have gone places, sure, but I can’t imagine not going places with her. Sure, I plan on going to Iceland one day soon, and I may very well go alone, but she’s still the author of a sphere of influence that continually expands to fit my wanderlusts.
- I’m thankful that I can walk into a ramen shop where nobody speaks English and get some tasty motherfucking taste. Whoever invented picture menus needs a motherfucking Nobel Prize.
- I’m grateful for these two women in my life. I have taken them both for granted in so many ways and I’m beyond thankful that they love me still.
- I’m grateful for the way Ivonne looks at me in those moments when we are only us again.
- But most of all tonight, I am beyond grateful for her touch, her contact, the simple grasping of a finger on a busy holiday train fighting its way through humidity that acts like tar to the thrashing of enthusiasm.
- We spent the most amazing day together today, grocery shopping, buying kitschy souvenirs, and rocking some v delicious ramen. That broth tho.
- The weather was far more palatable today. Compared to yesterday? Damn.
- I’m super grateful for the person Reza is becoming. She’s a kid, but she’s a good kid and she’s growing up to be an amazing person.
- Bee, Jun and the kids have been outstanding hosts. I know it puts a lot of pressure on them to host all of us, but they’re doing it with love, openness, and gratitude of their own. You can see how much Bee enjoys simply having her sister around, and vice versa – Ivonne simply stops and takes in that familial bond; it’s a joy to see.
- I’m thankful that I have the financial ability to walk into a store and practically buy anything that I could want. That’s simply being honest.
- I can’t put into words how amazing yesterday’s experience at Saijoji Temple. That’ll be a whole different journal entry of its own right, but to have been there at the right time to take in that ceremony – it was more moving than I realized.
- I’m so very thankful for Ivonne for her patience with me a few days ago. Naked Onsen Fight wasn’t one of my finer moments, but I’m supremely thankful that we can laugh about it now.
- Speaking of Ivonne: Yeah. She’s… she’s wonderful. I’m so very grateful for her choice to spend today with me.
- Lastly, for today, I’m grateful for the walk I took today, in the rain, by the river, with music and the mountains. It was exactly what I needed.
My body is shrinking. I can see it, feel it.
My confidence is growing. I can feel that, too.
My work is perpetual, yet it already feels worthwhile – and my heart?
My heart is hopeful. And ready.
I’m starting to get that sense of rekindling, a slow tortured glow that signals creation. I’m hearing music I want to make. I’m reading words I want to write.
And instead of mapping out my plan and watching it fail, I’m going to try this differently, in conjunction with many of the other things I’ve learned and come to appreciate recently through a new sense of awareness.
I want to write an album again, this time, all on my own. I want to play live again, this time, in my own vision. I see the opportunity to really make a mark in what I do and embracing the things I’m really good at, I can make something that means something.
What that something is? I’m not sure. And that’s the good thing.
I really only have about a half hour before I need to jump in the shower, but I wanted to note a few things for posterity so I can go back and reference later.
Adjustments are key to long term success. That sounds like a quip from a powerpoint presentation, but without being able to change our courses or change our minds, then we we’re doomed to hoping that a shot in the dark will hit the mark. Which it won’t. See, there’s no skill in staying the course; the challenge comes when you see it, maneuver, progress, then change again, because mark my words – it’s going to need to happen again. Indefinitely.
I know I’ve put her through the ringer the last month or so, but it hasn’t been with terrible intention. I know she knows that, too: But that doesn’t mean it hurts any less. Like I told her last night, right now, we’re working on the real shit and it’s going to be hard. My impatience isn’t helping those kinds of things, so I need to make some serious adjustments to take the next step. I couldn’t figure out why we were doing fine, then all of a sudden felt like significant setbacks were around every corner.
The answer? I was working hard, but not smart.
Think of it like pushing a car. Gotta get it to the gas station to get it filled up, right? You’re pushing – it’s tough, but you’re getting there – then all of a sudden, boom. Car stops. You keep pushing, nothing. You know this worked before, so you keep pushing, even harder. You’re straining. Gasping for air. You take a break, then push more, harder this time, and the car doesn’t budge. Finally, you get so frustrated and sit down in a huff, only to find that there are blocks in front of the wheels. No wonder the car isn’t moving. Ah! I have an idea! I’ll push harder!
Welcome to manufactured futility.
You know the blocks are there, you know that pushing hard worked before, but nothing’s happening now. No progress, no moment, and you’re getting exhausted. You know you need to pull the blocks bef…. oh.
And then it hits you.
Pull the blocks, dumbass.
In this case it’s important to understand what the blocks are in order to effectively remove them.
- Stop managing emotional content over text.
This sounds obvious, but when social media and a computer screen are many people’s primary communication portals, we tend to revert to things we know how to do, when face-to-face interaction – reading the body language, seeing the facial expressions, saying the words and meaning them – makes all the difference between real appreciation for a sentiment and abject horror at the inference. Things can get that confused in a chat window. So that is stopping as of today.
Now, that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop talking through the day. We’ll be online with each other all the time, sure, but we won’t engage in important conversations unless we’re face to face. What happens when we’re in a funk and we can tell? Is it a matter of reaching out to say, “Hey, I’m getting this vibe, you wanna chat when I get home?” What about the dreaded, ‘There’s something on my mind, but we’ll discuss when you get back’?
Consider that if it were really that bad, or she was that pissed, or that upset, that shit wouldn’t wait until later. So convince yourself that it’s something that can be – and should be – addressed in person, and don’t lose your mind when you know something’s coming. Really, these are the best conversations you can be having, the real ones, face to face.
- No more milestones
This was a concept that I really liked because it gave me a semblance of a progress report when all it made her feel was a pressure to perform. We can see how this is not very conducive to progress, right?
Going back to the car analogy, here’s the thing: If there are no blocks, and you’re pushing, the distant landscape doesn’t change so much just yet. But if you look down, to the sides, right in front of you, you’ll see that things are moving in their own way. No, it’s not as fast as you want, but you don’t want shortcuts this time around, anyway, right? I mean, that’s just asking for more trouble. This is a journey, not a ride around the block. If you end up back where you started, you’re destined to do this all over again in another 15 years and neither of you want that.
So we’re not going to ‘evaluate at a later time’. We should see progress, slow and steady progress. If I stop looking at the horizon and start looking at what’s in front of me, then I’ll see what I need to see. Granted, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to assuage any disappointment that we’re here in the first place, but that’s your fuel, right? Use it to keep moving.
- No more reassurance requirements.
This kinda piggybacks on the previous sentiment, but if you have to be told that you’re doing a good job, then you’re not. You should already know. And insisting on being told you’re doing a good job doesn’t make either of you feel better, it makes you look like an insecure man-baby. This is completely antithetical to our goals.
- Stop worrying about long-term.
This one was hard for me to come to terms with, but this is one of the most important things to her.
She’s doing her own work and making her own progress in her own ways and she feels that it’s not pragmatic to say, “of course x or y will happen,” because how does she really know?
Me? I’m totally the opposite: “Of course x and y will happen ’cause we’re going to make sure it does.”
The difference here is what has been a thing with us for our entire relationship, yet focused on us now. She’s always been a Glass Half Empty person. I’ve always been the Glass Half Full person. With this dichotomy, we’ve complimented each other perfectly in so many things over the years, but we’ve never had to turn that inward eye toward ourselves until now, and that’s why it feels weird. That’s why I’m not hearing what I want to hear, and that’s why she’s feeling pressure to say what she has never been able to say ever in the history of ever. And that’s important for me to understand: It’s not a diss on me that she can’t say what I want to hear, but she’s never been able to say those things before now, with issues that weren’t even remotely this important. What the hell makes me think that she could agree to that perspective this time around?
Again, keep your eye on what’s in front of you, not the horizon. Wherever you end up, you’re gonna be ok with it, ’cause you’re determined to be with her.
Look, I gotta get ready for work.
Here’s the deal. You feel good today. Stay that way. If you need to vent, find a way to do it without blasting her with piss. And secondarily, be ready to make adjustments when it’s time and try to be much better about anticipating them. I think I will be. This opening act was a doozy, so learn the lessons it taught you and be as compassionate as possible.
I love the woman. Unequivocally, completely, passionately. It’s important to not let that passion get in the way of doing good things, though, so mind yourself and keep working. You’ve done great work so far. Remove those blocks and keep pushing.
Since man has inhabited the deep desert of the Arabian peninsula, we’ve fought the hard fight against Mother Nature’s timeless war to swallow our cities, to scrub any trace of our presence from the surface of the earth. We’ve spent countless generations fortifying our walls, excavating and protecting our aqueducts, girding the signs of our artistry and humanity, but she never stops. She cares nothing for our efforts. The winds will blow the sands that will cover our walls and without constant vigilance we would turn away for a year, or two, or ten, only to be rewarded with maps that guide us to a nondescript dune in a barren wasteland.
I refuse to let that happen.
She’s everything to me, this metropolis of blood and passion and fragility. She is my jewel in the desert of humanity.
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